Christ’s Return

Are there ever times in your life when you have imagined what that very day of Christ’s return would bring? How often a child of God finds himself contemplating the events which will surround Christ’s second appearance! And is not that but natural? We are those who confess with Abraham and the cloud of witnesses in Hebrews 11 that we are “strangers and pilgrims on the earth.” We have no abiding place on this earth for we desire a “better country, that is, an heavenly.” It is only natural, then, that if our affections are upon our heavenly home we find ourselves thinking of that day when our Lord and Savior will usher in that glorious heavenly kingdom in all its perfection. In fact we not only think of that day, we long for that day. We are those who are sober and who watch and prepare for that day. We are those who persistently pray, “Come, Lord Jesus, yea, come quickly.” We are those who struggle to remain free from evil pleasures which would tear our eyes and desires from our homeland. I say again, it is only natural that many times in our life we find our thoughts drifting to that day when all our hopes will be fulfilled—the wonderful day of the Lord! The glory and the joy God’s children will experience in that day cannot be expressed with words! Paul writes to the Corinthian church in his first epistle to them, I Cor. 2:9, “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the thing which God hath prepared for them that love Him.”

Have you ever imagined what will transpire on that very day of Christ’s return? Although Jesus does not offer us all the details of this event, surely He describes that day for us. He spoke these words to His disciples inMatthew 24:29-31, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” Just reading these few words of Jesus should leave us standing in awe before God! That day of our Lord will be one filled with the greatest of all wonders! Who could imagine that this vast universe will collapse: the sun will give up its rays after having shone steadily for thousands of years; the moon and the stars, so set in their courses, shall fall from the sky! Who could imagine that Christ will appear in such a way that not one eye will avoid seeing Him! Who could imagine the gathering together of all the elect from the four corners of this world! All indescribably wonders of grace! But such will be the day of Christ’s return. 

Yet there are many who explain the prediction of all these wonders as merely a picturesque description of man’s Utopia on earth. They claim that the Scriptures refer to all this as Christ’s coming merely because at that time man will have established peace and prosperity on earth and Christ’s teachings will then become reality. Still others, who think along the same lines, would posit that all these wonders speak merely of the glorious triumph of the gospel. There is, therefore, no literal return of Christ; and all these glorious wonders will never be witnessed. Surely this view of the postmillennialist shatters completely the hopes and longings of God’s children. There is nothing they want more than to see their Lord return to and gather them together into their heavenly home wherein they will dwell in the very bosom of their heavenly Father. To live in an earthly world, even if it be perfect, is not enough for the child of God, for even a perfect world of peace and prosperity could never equal the glory of heaven. The child of God understands the purpose of God in creation and the fall. He knows that God loves His people so much that an earthly Paradise is not good enough for them. That is why Adam had to sin. Christ must come and give to us something far more beautiful and glorious than that earthly Paradise. He must give to us heaven. And that heavenly glory is given us when Christ returns—literally returns. To say that we receive anything less shatters our hopes and prayers. Christ will return. And His appearance will be surrounded with all these wonders of grace. 

We are told that just prior to this return of Christ there will be signs which reveal to God’s children that His return is imminent. The passage in Matthew 24 which we quoted speaks of the last of these signs taking place “immediately after the tribulation of those days.” Although the sequence of events will take place so rapidly that each sign will fall one on top of the other, we are able to discern just exactly how things will transpire. After the great persecution of Christ’s Church by the Antichrist there will be a falling out of the nations. Gog and Magag will arise in opposition to the Antichrist to do battle with him. Then, while the attention of all the world is focused upon this battle, will begin what to the world is the greatest of calamities—the overturning of the universe. Isaiah describes this sign with these words in Isaiah 34:4: “And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as a falling fig from the fig tree.” The vast and wide expanse of this universe—a universe whose limits puny man can never plumb—by God’s power, shall be rolled together as a scroll. The sun, moon, and stars shall fall from the sky, the earth will sail from its orbit, and the galaxies shall be shaken. 

It is exactly at this time that the final sign of Christ’s coming shall take place. We are told in Matthew 24:30, “And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven.” We are not told by Jesus what that sign is. All we are told is that it too is a sign in the heavens. Perhaps it will be the brilliancy of God’s glory now shining forth through that veil of the universe. Certainly Scripture seems to support this. Jesus says in Matthew 24:27, “For as the lightning cometh out of the east and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” 

Immediately after the fulfillment of this sign Christ shall appear. We notice once again just how rapidly all of this must take place. The rending of the universe, the sign of the Son of man, and the final coming of Christ certainly do not extend over a period of months or even weeks. It is even a question of whether it takes longer than a day for all this to take place. But Christ now appears—not, mind you, in weakness and humiliation as He did the first time, but on the contrary, He appears with power and great glory! And what a great wonder! Every eye shall behold that power and glory, no matter on which side of the globe they may stand! Then shall be fulfilled what Jesus testified to the Sanhedrin just prior to His death, “Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” How the wicked had fought and disputed with Jesus in His first coming! How they had denied Him, mocked Him, and crucified Him! But now on Christ’s return every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father! Every eye shall see Him descending in the clouds of heaven, adorned with the authority of God! He shall be accompanied by His angels who shall shout of His coming and blow the trumpets of His praise! No one will dare stand in opposition to Him, much less speak against Him! He comes as the exalted Lord of all glory! 

Oh yes, we look forward to that day. It is this very coming of our Lord that brings about the end of the world and which ushers in for us eternal glory. God’s people rejoice when they hear that the day of our Lord approaches. The reason they rejoice is rooted in what takes place in that day. Jesus tells us that God’s angels shall gather together the elect from the four winds. That too is why Luke records for us in his gospel these words of Jesus in Luke 21:28, “And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.” When Christ returns in power and all glory He returns to give us final redemption. We will be removed from this world of sin and given a life wherein it will be impossible to sin. We will be removed from this world of pain and sorrow and given a life where there will be no more shedding of tears. All that when Christ comes! We rejoice in that! 

The wicked, on the other hand, will mourn; their hearts’ shall fail for fear. Revelation 6:15-17 describes their actions when Christ returns, “And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; and said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of Him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Loam: for the great day of His wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” Great reason is there for them to speak this way too, for in that day Christ will consume them with the breath of His mouth and the brightness of His coming. The ungodly will perish in that day. 

We will never find the ungodly pondering the second coming of Christ. Only we who wait for our salvation love to hear of the events of that day. We stand in awe at the works of God’s hands, and in all confidence we rejoice that in that day we will be numbered among the assembly of the elect in life eternal. So we wait patiently for the coming of the Captain of our salvation